Insider Hints at Potential Conflict Between Browns, Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson

Getty Quarterback Deshaun Watson stands on the field with head coach Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns.

The upcoming season sees heightened expectations for the Cleveland Browns and their quarterback, Deshaun Watson, both of whom face considerable pressure to pile up wins.

However, there are concerns over possible tension due to the Browns’ lukewarm interest, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, in pursuing DeAndre Hopkins — a former teammate of Watson’s.

The Browns were once the favorite to land Hopkins, who was released by the Arizona Cardinals in May in a cap-saving move. However, the tide has turned. Multiple teams have hosted Hopkins for a visit, but the Browns do not have much interest in landing the former All-Pro, Breer said.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk said he was intrigued by Breer’s report, saying he could see it potentially causing a conflict between the Browns and their franchise quarterback.

“If what he’s saying privately to the team matches what he said publicly, and the Browns aren’t interested, that’s where you say there may be a little pressure point here between Watson and the Browns at a time when it’s critical,” Florio said. “The Browns need to get more out of Deshaun Watson in year two of a five-year fully guaranteed contract.”

Florio: Browns Floundering Could Lead to ‘Changes’

The Browns gave up a treasure trove of assets to land Watson last offseason. Cleveland received Watson and a 2024 sixth-round draft choice, while the Houston Texans got three first-round picks, a pair of fourth-rounders and a third-round pick. They also handed Watson a massive contract extension.

With Watson’s 11-game suspension now behind him, there are hopes that he can regain the Pro Bowl form he showed in Houston. If not, the Browns could decide to shake things up.

“If they don’t get the most out of Watson this year, there could be a change next year, just because ownership will be feeling even more urgent to justify not just the money, but all the draft picks they gave up to get Deshaun Watson,” Florio said. “We get so captivated by the five-year fully guaranteed contract and the problems that caused and the Lamar Jackson angle. We don’t think about the three first-round picks plus that they gave up to get Deshaun Watson. So it was a massive investment. They need a return on it.”

Browns Have Added New Weapons for Deshaun Watson

GettyDeshaun Watson will have some new weapons to work with next season.

The Browns made some moves this offseason to give Watson some more weapons to work with. They landed Elijah Moore via trade, picked up veteran free agent speedster Marquise Goodwin and drafted Cedric Tillman with their top draft pick (No. 74 overall).

But if Watson is passionate about a reunion with Hopkins and the Browns are not obliging, Florio thinks it could get complicated.

“If Watson wants Hopkins and the team is saying no, that to me, is significant,” Florio said. “If he truly believed they could benefit from Hopkins. And if the Browns don’t want him, that’s the kind of thing that could be a potential problem.”

Reports on the ground in Berea don’t point to there being any tension between Watson and the Browns. Terry Pluto of reported that Watson has built a “strong relationship” with Kevin Stefanski and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt. He also noted Watson has been a low-maintenance player for Cleveland.

Read More